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Alberta Online Encyclopedia

Sports

The NorGlen Rhythmic Gymnastics group was co-founded by Helgi Leesment (centre) shown with her collegues celebrating the 25th anniversary of the organization. Dancing was not the only means of participating in physical activity. In fact, the Linda Hall possessed outdoor equipment for everyone to use. The complex consisted of a swing set, trapeze, parallel bars, a sand pit for long jump, and a large mat for high jump. The road adjacent to Linda Hall was frequently used as a course for long- and middle-distance running. In Eckville, baseball was a popular activity during the summer months with members of the Raabis family frequently participating. In the southern Alberta community of Barons, bowling and baseball were popular activities among Estonian settlers. Estonian settler Jack Kulpas developed a reputation among the community as a prolific bowler, successfully competing in numerous tournaments.

The female sport of rhythmic gymnastics traces its roots to Europe in the 1800s and early 1900s. Over the course of the 19th century, eastern European countries, including Estonia, have excelled at the sport. During the same time frame, several waves of Estonian immigrants arrived in Canada, bringing with them a variety of skills and abilities. One of those contributions has been rhythmic gymnastics. Combining artistic impression with physical strength, rhythmic gymnasts incorporate a variety of hand apparati, including a ball, rope, hoop, or ribbon into their routines. Rhythmic gymnastic coaches, often immigrants or descendants of European countries, including Estonia, have played a major role in developing the sport in Canada. In Calgary, for example, Helgi Leesment has been the Ladies' Coach at the Norglen Rhythmic Gymnastics Club, which she co-founded over 25 years ago.

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